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Friday, 5 October 1984
Page: 1333

Senator PRIMMER —My question is directed to the Minister for Veterans' Affairs. Has he seen reports of a statement by Senator Messner in the Daily Mirror of 3 October 1984 about granny flats and the assets test? Has the Minister been able to work out whose granny the honourable senator was talking about?

Senator GIETZELT —It is impossible to work out whose granny we are talking about because the article is thoroughly misleading. Senator Messner has made both a thoughtless and heartless statement and it clearly indicates his lack of understanding of what a granny flat is. A granny flat is an additional structure of room or rooms, or an additional dwelling erected on a ratepayer's property after it has been approved by a local government authority. Therefore it is the property of the ratepayer who wants to provide accommodation for his or her aged parents and it is properly called a granny flat. Having said that, of course it is the asset of the original landowner or ratepayer and it is not the asset of the pensioner. The report therefore is very confusing because it is not clear whether the honourable senator is talking about the pensioner or pensioners who wish to provide their aged parents with a granny flat, or whether he is talking about aged pensioners who are being offered a granny flat by their children. If we have a very unusual circumstance, for example, of a service pensioner of 60 years of age owning a property, of course that person is in no way affected by increasing the value of the property in respect of his or her own service pension. However, if an 80 year old parent is going to live in the granny flat of course it is not regarded as an asset in terms of the older person, the parent, occupying the granny flat. In the same article Senator Messner says:

It is extremely difficult to obtain a separate title for granny flats as they are generally considered as part of the original house.

Of course they are. That is local government ordinance. Therefore it just proves that that is a fearmongering statement, just like those we have had from Senator Messner ever since the Government has talked about establishing an assets test. Of course it creates distress when there is no need for distress to be created because no granny flat, whether it is owned by the children or the parent, is taken into account when we are assessing the right of a pensioner to maintain an existing pension. Therefore I say that the article is thoroughly misleading. In fact it has just the opposite effect of what Senator Messner has sought to create.